Dorothy Wilde
British writer
Dorothy Wilde
Dorothy Ierne Wilde, known as Dolly Wilde, was an Anglo-Irish socialite, made famous by her family connections and her reputation as a witty conversationalist. Her charm and humor made her a popular guest at salons in Paris between the wars, standing out even in a social circle known for its flamboyant talkers. Wilde, born in London three months after her uncle Oscar Wilde's arrest for homosexual acts, was the only child of Oscar's older brother, Willie.
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  • 1941
    Age 45
    She died aged 45 in 1941, of "causes unascertainable", according to the coroner's inquest—possibly the cancer or possibly a drug overdose.
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  • 1939
    Age 43
    In 1939 she was diagnosed with breast cancer and refused surgery, seeking alternative treatments.
    More Details Hide Details The following year, with the Germans approaching Paris, she fled for England.
  • 1927
    Age 31
    Of these, the three longest relationships were with de Gramont, Brooks, and Wilde; from 1927, Barney was involved with all three women simultaneously, a situation that ended only with Wilde's death.
    More Details Hide Details Dolly Wilde was regarded by many as a gifted storyteller and writer, but she never took advantage of these natural talents. She was supported mostly by the generosity of others and by a small inheritance from her stepfather; her only written works were translations - often uncredited and unpaid - and animated correspondence with her friends. Wilde drank to excess and was addicted to heroin. She went through several detoxification attempts, none successful; she emerged from one nursing-home stay with a new dependency on the sleeping draught paraldehyde, then available over-the-counter.
    Her longest relationship, lasting from 1927 until her death, was with openly lesbian American writer Natalie Clifford Barney, who was host of one of the best-known Parisian literary salons of the 20th century.
    More Details Hide Details Due in part to Jean Chalon's early biography of her, published in English as Portrait of a Seductress, Natalie Barney has become more widely known for her many relationships than for her writing or her salon. She once wrote out a list, divided into three categories: liaisons, demi-liaisons, and adventures. Colette, the actress, was a demi-liaison, while the artist and furniture designer Eyre de Lanux, with whom she had an off-and-on affair for several years, was listed as an adventure. Among the liaisons—the relationships that Barney considered most important—were Olive Custance, Renée Vivien, Elisabeth de Gramont, Romaine Brooks, and Dolly Wilde.
  • 1914
    Age 18
    In 1914, she travelled to France in order to drive an ambulance in World War I.
    More Details Hide Details During the war she had an affair with one of her fellow ambulance drivers, Standard Oil heiress Marion "Joe" Carstairs, who in the 1920s became a speedboat racer and was known as "the fastest woman on water." Although she "revelled in" attracting both men and women, Wilde was primarily, if not entirely, lesbian.
  • 1895
    Born in 1895.
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